When you’re starting a small business on a tight budget, it can be tempting to forego the process of building a website and instead opt for a Facebook business page. After all, Facebook is free, it’s easy to set up, and it’s a great way to create a personal connection with your audience. Plus, it has more than a billion daily users and inbuilt online shopping facilities. It sounds like a no-brainer, right?
Actually, no. A Facebook business page is a fantastic tool, but there are plenty of compelling reasons why a standalone website should be the hub of your online presence.
Websites give you more control
While Facebook allows you to upload branded content to your business page, at the end of the day, it still looks like Facebook. Having your own website allows you complete flexibility to display your brand exactly the way you want and stand out from the crowd.
A custom website means fewer distractions
Your website is a digital island in a sea of online noise. There, everything your visitor sees is your content. Nothing is clamouring for their attention, like notifications for messenger, other retailers’ Marketplace listings, tags, friends’ comments, videos, or photos.
Companies that don’t have websites tend to be less trusted. Would you buy something from a place that only had a free Facebook page? How would you feel about a business if you looked for its website and couldn’t find one? Studies (like this one from Nielson) have found that having a good website improves a customer’s perceived value of your business.
Gathering followers is great, but you can’t beat the ability to capture your customers’ email addresses, enabling you to market directly to them. There’s no guarantee that your business page posts will show up in their Facebook newsfeed, but you can be pretty confident that they’ll see the promotional email that you send to their inbox. Management and consulting company McKinsey & Co has found that email marketing is 40 times more effective than social media.
Facebook might be huge, but not everyone has an account. And some people actively avoid Facebook altogether. Anyone with an internet connection can find your website. Don’t limit your audience by tying your online presence to a single platform.
It doesn’t mean that Facebook or (any other social media platform) doesn’t have a place in your digital marketing strategy. It absolutely does, but it should be used to drive your customers to your website rather than replacing it.